Leadplant, Amorpha canescens


Amorpha canescens

Sun Shade:
Bloom Time: Summer
Zones: 3, 4, 5
Soil Conditions: Loam, Sand
Soil Moisture: Dry, Medium
Color: Purple
Fragrance: No
Height: 2 - 3 feet
Spacing: 2 feet


Leadplant (Amorpha canescens) is a native that typically occurs in open woodlands, glades and prairies. This pea/bean family member is a somewhat ungainly, deciduous shrub growing 1-3 feet tall and featuring slender, dense, 4-8 inches spike-like clusters of tiny, bluish-purple flowers with gold anthers which bloom in May-June. It also features alternate, pinnately compound leaves with grayish green leaflets and densely hairy twigs.

The blooming period occurs from early to mid-summer and lasts about 3 weeks. The central root occasionally branches, and can extend 15 feet or more into the soil.

Habitats include mesic to dry black soil prairies, sand prairies, gravel prairies, hill prairies, limestone glades, and Black Oak savannas. The presence of Leadplant is a sign of high quality habitat. Because of its deep roots, recovery from fire is very good.

Grow in average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun. Does well in poor, sandy, somewhat dry soils. May spread by self-seeding. Plant may die back to the ground in harsh winters.

Plant Notes and Herbal Uses
  A wire fence or cage may be necessary to protect young plants from rabbits.
  Flowers may not appear for at least 3 years.
  Remove flower stalks when they fade.
   Remove growth when dies to the ground.
Further Information

Wild Ones of the Fox Valley Area
Prairie Nursery
Wisconsin DNR
Wisconsin Native Plant Nurseries